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22 September 2017

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New treaty effectiveness will depend on adequacy of data to be collected, say NGOs  

Geneva, Switzerland

Prior to the start of the first Conference of Parties (COP1), the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) welcomed the entry into force of the Minamata Convention. 

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, international ZMWG coordinator. “We applaud the world’s governments for committing to curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness.
During the prior negotiations, the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) approved many of the forms and guidance that the Convention specifies must be adopted at COP 1, which are needed for the swift and smooth launch and running of the Convention.  These include guidance documents on identifying stocks, determining best available technologies and reducing mercury use in small scale gold mining; as well as forms for trade procedures and for exemptions from certain deadlines.

“These INC approvals were achieved by consensus after considerable deliberations, and are ready for approval without further debate,” said Satish Sinha, Toxics Link India.

Among the most critical open issues to be discussed at COP1 are the reporting requirements, which will provide critical information on both the global mercury situation and the effectiveness of the Convention in achieving mercury reductions.   Particularly critical to collect will be data on mercury production and trade, which can change significantly in a short period of time.

 “Countries will not have readily available information about production and trade in bordering countries or within their region, unless there is frequent reporting under the Convention,” said David Lennett, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council “Many borders between countries are “porous,” and where a significant portion of mercury trade is informal/illegal.   Good data on legal trade flows will enable actions to address illegal trade, all of which has a huge impact on artisanal and small scale gold mining, the largest source of mercury pollution globally.

Mercury is a global pollutant that travels long distances. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts on babies in utero

For more information, see:




Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, ZMWG International Coordinator
T: +32 2 2891301,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +1 802 917 8222,   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For information on reporting, please contact David Lennett, Natural Resources Defense Council, T:  +1 202 460 8517   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For further information, please contact:

*The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of over 95 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project.  ZMWG strives for zero supply, demand, and emissions of mercury from all anthropogenic sources, with the goal of reducing mercury in the global environment to a minimum.  Our mission is to advocate and support the adoption and implementation of a legally binding instrument which contains mandatory obligations to eliminate where feasible, and otherwise minimize, the global supply and trade of mercury, the global demand for mercury, anthropogenic releases of mercury to the environment, and human and wildlife exposure to mercury.


Home Press Releases EEB-RPN-MPP Blog: In global first, NGOs urge Europe-wide ban on CFLs by 2018
EEB-RPN-MPP Blog: In global first, NGOs urge Europe-wide ban on CFLs by 2018 PDF Print
Monday, 02 November 2015 12:00

Mercury Policy Project

EEB- RPN-MPP blog: In global first, NGOs urge Europe-wide ban on CFLs by 2018

Environmental NGOs[i] are urging the European Commission (EC) to restrict sales of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), showing how they can be feasibly replaced with lighting emitting diode (LED) lamps, which are safer and more energy efficient. 

The Commission’s environment directorate has, in many cases, the power to restrict electronic equipment that contains mercury (or other persistent toxic chemicals) from the market under the EU Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive.[ii]  

“LEDs are already available, mercury-free, and have surpassed CFLs with respect to energy efficiency, lamp life and performance, ” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Project Manager for the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). “The time is ripe for an EC decision to take commonly used CFLs (<30W) off the shelves throughout the EU by September 2018,” Lymberidi-Settimo added. “This will boost innovation and create jobs.”

The NGO comments are in response to the EU lighting industry’s  request to the European Commission to continue approving RoHS mercury exemptions for most categories of fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting equipment, including CFLs. This could result in these mercury-containing products continuing to be sold for as long as the law allows.

 “Our research clearly shows that LEDs are environmentally preferable to CFLs from a lifecycle perspective,” said Alicia Culver, executive director of the Responsible Purchasing Network.  “LEDs use less energy, last three times longer, and are less toxic than CFLs. Also, because the price of LEDs has been dropping rapidly, while their performance has been dramatically improving, LED lamps are now a practical and affordable alternative to mercury-containing CFLs for most general purpose lighting applications.”

The groups point out that their case is bolstered by research from the European Commission and its consultants predicting that the availability, performance and price of LED lamps will continue to quickly improve.

“LEDs are rapidly becoming more cost competitive, especially when their ability to cut energy use, nearly eliminated  replacement needs and when waste disposal costs are factored in  ,” said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project. “Besides, shifting to LED technology moves us away from fossil fuel dependency, since nearly one-fifth of global electricity use is in lighting.”

Workers can be exposed to mercury when manufacturing, transporting, installing, recycling or disposing of mercury-added lamps, while consumers can be exposed when fluorescent lamps are broken - the greatest risk is indoors where there is no ventilation to remove mercury vapours immediately after breakage.

According to Lighting Europe’s exemption request, less than half of the CFLs sold in the EU (45%) are collected and recycled. NGOs are concerned that the longer CFLs are allowed on the market, the more they will create a mercury waste problem since they will be entering the waste stream (in volume) for many years after the ban.

For other lamp categories (such as fluorescent tubes and High Intensity Discharge -HID- lamps), NGOs want lower mercury limits to be imposed when the current RoHS Directive expires – or shortly thereafter (within the next 2 years). Research shows that many lamps in those categories are already meeting the proposed lower mercury limits as manufacturers are increasingly using more accurate mercury dosing methods.

“Our research, which is based on data provided by major European lamp manufacturers, shows that many types of fluorescent and HID lamps can operate with much lower mercury levels and still have high energy efficiency and a very long lamp life,” said Culver.

The deadline for comments on the mercury exemption requests for lighting equipment was 16 October 2015. The Commission is expected to make a decision by the end of 2016.


[i] Environmental NGOs include:

-- The European Environmental Bureau, (EEB), www.eeb.org, is a federation of more than 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in all EU Member States and most Accession Countries, as well as in a few neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.

--The Mercury Policy Project (MPP), a project of the Tides Center,www.mercurypolicy.org, works to promote policies to eliminate mercury uses, prevent the export and trafficking of mercury, and significantly reduce mercury exposures at the local, national, and international levels. We strive to work harmoniously with other groups and individuals who have similar goals and interests.

--The Responsible Purchasing Network, www.responsiblepurchasing.org, is a non-profit organization based in the United States that helps government agencies, institutions and businesses to specify, evaluate and purchase environmentally preferable goods and services including high-efficiency, low-toxicity lighting equipment. 

[ii] See restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment; see http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/rohs_eee/legis_en.htm.